While the Democratic Party continues to try and pick its collective self off of the canvass following the knockout punch delivered on November 2, the finger pointing and expletives are flying and the party is in shambles. For the victors, though, it's not too unseemly to take the advice of that old rascal Bill Clinton: Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow. As President Bush prepares for a second term it should be pointed out and amplified that his successor is standing right by his side. The Republican Party should nominate Condoleezza Rice for the presidency in 2008.
Dr. Rice's qualifications for the presidency are unimpeachable, aside from her inexperience of running for elected office. But she is one of the precious few who has toiled in academia and emerged with a pragmatic view of the world. More important than her years on the Stanford University political science faculty and her prestigious teaching awards are her staggering credentials in the executive branch of the federal government. Dr. Rice served with President George H. W. Bush during the German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union as director and senior director of Soviet Union and Eastern European Affairs within the National Security Council. She also served as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. During the Reagan Administration she was a special assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Most are quite familiar with her work in the current Bush Administration as National Security Advisor, perhaps the most important position in the Administration following September 11, 2001. Her strong defense of, and support for, the Bush Doctrine of preemption and self—preservation has, of course, drawn detractors from the predictable sources. This past Sunday on Meet the Press, Maureen Dowd sneered that Dr. Rice 'didn't do her job' as National Security Advisor, but typically did not offer any argument for her statement. Leftists have tagged Rice as an 'inauthentic' member of the black race, and the despicable cartoonist Ted Rall called Rice the President's 'house nigga' in this cartoon that is too obscene for words.
Well. This inauthentic black woman graduated from college at 19 and was offered a professorship at Stanford before having completed her doctorate. She grew up to write on a scrap of paper given to the President of the United States that Iraq, after suffering at the boot heel of a mad dictator for decades, was a sovereign nation. This was a feat of monumental importance in the history of the world, due in no short measure to the work and advice she gave to President Bush. She also did a whole lot in between.
As John F. Kennedy pointed out in the first televised debate with Richard Nixon in 1960, 'there is no certain road to the presidency.' Kennedy reminded the nation that Abraham Lincoln's only service in the federal government prior to his inauguration was a largely forgotten term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1840s. Dr. Rice's experience and training for the presidency somewhat mirrors those of James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams. In this time of threat and war, it is perhaps best to have a chief executive whose overarching purpose in life has not been seeking elected office, but one who has extensive training and experience dealing with the threats that face us.
Madison, Monroe, and Adams each served as Secretary of State no less than seven years apiece, and Monroe served as Secretary of War. Adams served as minister to Russia and Great Britain. Indeed, they held elected office, but their most formidable experience and training for the presidency came in these appointed offices that deal with foreign affairs and potential conflict. Similarly, Dr. Rice's experience in the administrations of both of the Bush presidencies has provided her with a unique first—hand role in shaping and executing the foreign policy and defense of the United States. Because our world is still dangerous, and because President Bush has said repeatedly and correctly that the war on terrorism will go beyond his time in office, Dr. Rice can and will step into the role of Commander—in—Chief with ease.
Dr. Rice is no stranger to budgetary work either. She was Provost at Stanford University, where she was the school's chief budget and academic officer and was responsible for a $1.5 billion annual budget covering students and faculty. Naturally the federal budget is slightly more involved, but unlike many candidates who aspire to the presidency, Dr. Rice has actually formulated and implemented significant budgets, not merely voted upon them.
Of course, there will be many who will seek the Republican nomination next time around, most prominently Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Sen. McCain, however, is a frontrunner who always seemed more interested in getting the press to fawn over him than he was in staying loyal to the President when times were particularly tough during the 2004 campaign. This willingness to court the media a bit too enthusiastically was a troublesome aspect of his 2000 run for the nomination as well, and perhaps one of the reasons he did not win. While he completely understands and appreciates what to do about the threats we face from al Qaeda and others, Sen. McCain's main interest is Sen. McCain, and this is not the sort of personality to whom the standard should be awarded in 2008. Perhaps President Rice can find a spot for him in her administration should he wish to serve.
Sen. McCain would never go for the second slot on a national campaign, though nobody in my particular corner really cares. A good vice presidential nominee might be Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who is doing a fine job as that state's chief executive. With Gov. Pawlenty's help and appeal, Dr. Rice and the party would go a long way to securing the Upper Midwest states that were just beyond President Bush's reach last week.
The natural question is whether Dr. Rice would have appeal and support in the South — can a black woman win there? The answer is yes. Leftists, especially those found sipping wine at Martha's Vineyard, insulting wait staff in New York City restaurants, or making tedious movies in Hollywood, love to characterize and portray Southerners as tabacky—spittin', hood wearin', bitch slappin' drunks who enjoy chasin' nigras for kicks. Contrary to their wish that the world be trapped in a '60s time warp, however, the rest of the nation — especially the South — has moved on and evolved.
Who would have believed — even 20 years ago — that the most popular athlete in the country would be a multiracial golfer, and that the most popular and respected television figure would be an African American woman? Southern alumni of Notre Dame and alumni of Mississippi State alike root for their football teams that are coached by African Americans. Millions of children who now vote have grown up attending school with people who look different, who speak foreign languages, and worship differently. They buy the music of Latin musicians, watch movies and televisions shows with black headliners, and have friends who couldn't be any more different than they. The nation is not only ready for a black president, female president, or both, but many voters would hardly give the candidate's race and gender a second thought. The MTV/Vote or Die!/Rock the Vote bloc may be annoying as hell, but they won't blink when it comes to voting for an African—American woman.
The South is not the backwoods area of the country full of ignorant racists that the left seems to think it is. The South is a reflection of the nation itself, full of dynamic, multicultural cities like Atlanta and Miami, quaint towns, and great academic institutions. Dr. Rice's experience and belief in defending the nation from outlanders and enemies within, as the highest priority, will resonate with the South as it will the rest of the nation. Plus she is an Alabama native. Also, like President Bush, Dr. Rice is a devout Christian and has often spoken of the contentment her Presbyterian faith has given her. Dr. Rice's staff is under strict orders not to page her during Sunday morning church services. This sort of faith will obviously play well in the South, and across the nation.
It also is well past time to shatter the myth that the Republican Party is anything but a 'big tent' party. Republicans everywhere have consistently stood for equal rights and the hopes and dreams of all individuals within the nation, beginning with Lincoln freeing the slaves, and Theodore Roosevelt defying white racist supporters by dining in the White House with Booker T. Washington.
Did you know that of the two presidential candidates in 1960, Richard Nixon was the one who was a member of the NAACP? It was the Republicans in Congress who drove Lyndon Johnson's voting and civil rights bills right over filibustering Democrats like Robert Byrd and Al Gore's father. President George W. Bush's appointment of African Americans and minorities to positions slightly higher in profile than Undersecretary of State for International Tidily Winks competitions is further proof that Trent Lott and his small ilk do not speak for the party. By the way, can you name any high—profile African Americans who were front—and—center during the Kerry campaign?
All of this is not to suggest that there is no racism in the United States. There is, and people of every hue, religion, and creed practice it. We still, and always will, strive for a more perfect union. Yet in a time of turmoil and peril, the content of character, and certainly not the color of skin, will indeed be the ultimate test of individuals seeking the presidency of the United States. These days, though, it seems that those who fan the flames of racial discord are those who cut radio ads saying that if Republicans are elected, black churches will burn, and continue to beat the drum of black voter disenfranchisement without offering a shred of proof.
Who will Dr. Rice defeat in 2008? If the Democratic Party is foolish enough to nominate Hillary Clinton to go against Dr. Rice, the former First Lady will make Walter Mondale look like he graduated magna cum laude from the Electoral College. She will not be able to fool anyone by running in centrist's clothing in the general election, as did her husband. Besides, Sen. Clinton will only win the nomination if the few remaining Democratic moderates cannot wrest control of the party from her personally—installed organ grinder's monkey, Terry McAuliffe. If the Democrats and the mainstream media thought the blog machine was a juggernaut in 2004, wait until all of the skeletons in Sen. Clinton's walk—in closet come dancing out.
No matter whom the Democrats nominate in 2008, he or she will not have anything near Dr. Rice's experience and expertise in the most important function of the presidency, national security and the defense of the nation. It is difficult to think of a Democrat who could adequately mount a successful campaign against Dr. Rice. The Democrats may be thinking of taking a flyer on newly—elected senator Barack Obama of Illinois, but he would do well to bide his time and wait for the party to rid itself of its reliance on McAuliffe and embracing the support of Michael Moore and assorted Hollywood morons, who will unfortunately remain too cowardly to become expatriates. But who among the current crop could seriously challenge Rice? Howard Dean? Al Gore? Al Sharpton? Please. Perhaps Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana could make a decent nominee, but Dr. Rice is a giant. Bayh is not.
While all of this sounds grand, it will be no easy task to convince Dr. Rice to seek the presidency. She is not one to seek the spotlight and the presidential spotlight is the harshest of them all, fraught with personal intrusions and falsehoods. Moore might even produce a movie positing that Dr. Rice is actually the love child of a Halliburton executive and a member of the Saudi royal family. These prospects can be discouraging, but one hopes that the ultimate weapon in the effort to sway her to run is deployed: President George W. Bush.
The President is not one to mope around the White House thinking aloud about what his legacy should be. He knows what he wants to accomplish, and foremost among these tasks is the introduction and spread of democracy in the Middle East. For national posterity and a special place in history, however, one could not think of a better legacy than to formally endorse and promote the election of the first African American woman to the presidency. Should fate intervene, and Vice President Cheney be unable to serve his full term, Dr. Rice should be appointed his successor.
One way or another, President Bush should ask Dr. Rice to continue the work that, together, has resulted in democracy and freedom for millions, safety at home, and the advancement of the principles of the Republican Party. It will take some convincing, but the President can be quite persuasive. While it will be tempting for her to leave the government and make some money, she is in a unique position to make history.
One hopes to see President Bush follow the example of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan before him regarding William Howard Taft and George H. W. Bush, and (after imploring to Dr. Rice the importance of carrying on the work he has started) asking the American people to validate his handpicked successor. The President would be a hit again on the campaign trail, and Dr. Rice would not have to stuff him in a closet as Gore did with Clinton in 2000. One envisions the President poking fun at himself by referring to Dr. Rice's academic accomplishments, cracking that funny grin and saying 'You won't have to worry about your President 'mis—pro—nun—ci—at—ing' words any more,' followed by the laundry list of reasons why President Rice has a really nice ring to it.
Rice's candidacy will be the Republican Party's demolition — hopefully once and for all — not only of the tired myth that it is the party of racists and bigots, but also of boorish male chauvinists. The most popular Democrat currently is a woman who really is the anti—feminist, a woman who subordinated a promising legal and political career to ride the coattails of a husband who continually humiliated her publicly and privately, while she refused to leave him in a naked attempt to over and over again satisfy the base human emotion of power. Presently, the other most popular Democrat is her husband. These are the faces of the Democratic Party. Dr. Rice should be the face of the Republican Party.
Dr. Rice is not just a realization of the dream of which Martin Luther King spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963; she is the walking embodiment of the American Dream. Seldom in the story of our Republic has an individual been so adequately prepared and eminently qualified to lead the nation at precisely the right moment in history. Her personal qualities of individualism, competence, steadfastness, and honor will be a natural continuation of President Bush's leadership and make her a natural successor and a natural success. It is right that the Republican Party become the first major party to put forth the first African American and the first female for the highest office in the land. Condoleezza Rice for President in 2008.
Matt May is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org